Meet Arizona State’s MBA Class Of 2020

Denise Napolitano

Arizona State University, W. P. Carey School of Business

“I am a STEM education enthusiast, coffee roaster, and entrepreneur.”

Hometown: Astoria, New York

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am an animal lover! I have two cats with big personalities who love to be around people!

Undergraduate School and Major: B.A., Chemistry, Barnard College of Columbia University; Ph.D., Chemistry, Arizona State University

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: New York City Police Department; Criminalist

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I completed my Ph.D. in Chemistry, working on an exciting and fascinating project in atmospheric chemistry.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? My class is so diverse! We all come from different places. We have different educational backgrounds and professional experiences, and we all have different motives for pursuing an MBA. Our eclectic backgrounds greatly enrich the MBA experience, since we see and approach problems from many different angles.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I had been part of the ASU community for six years before starting the MBA program. I have always appreciated ASU’s commitment to interdisciplinary learning, and I clearly saw that this was exemplified at W. P. Carey. The Full-Time program places a great emphasis on learning through experience, learning from people with different backgrounds (not just within business, but outside of the business school through Intellectual Fusion Learning Labs), and customizing the MBA experience to best suit my career goals.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I have been selected to be a First-Year Representative for the W. P. Carey Women’s Leadership Association and W. P. Carey Volunteer Council. I am looking forward to using these positions to promote the advancement of women in business, and to rally my classmates to give back to our community through volunteering.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I want to start my own business, and I know that I can receive a solid educational foundation to learn how to start a business through the Full-Time MBA program, and a support system through the Center for Entrepreneurship.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Many startup founders go through periods of trial-and-error if they do not have a business background. I know that my business will have a stronger start after I learn the skills needed in the MBA program.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? None

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? In the fall of 2016, I spent four months conducting atmospheric research in Strasbourg, France. I was immersed in a culture completely different from my own that was struggling with unique national and global issues. This experience helped me realize that I wanted to do work that would more directly benefit society. I re-evaluated my career path and realized that I needed to make a change to build a fulfilling career for myself. As soon as I returned home, I began researching MBA programs!

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan to start a business that will help strengthen educational structures in STEM in elementary and high schools, and that will help empower young children, especially girls, to pursue careers in STEM.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully still working on a growing business!

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